Does anyone else really struggle with the mini-season that occurs between fall and winter? You know, when we’ll have a beautiful 75° day… followed by a day full of freezing rain and snow? (For those of you that live in areas of the country where the transition from fall to winter means you stop wearing tank tops and start bundling up in short-sleeve t-shirts? Those of us from the northern half of the country hate you. Nothing personal.) That stretch of weeks (or months) depresses me more than winter itself, but it does have one redeeming quality: it’s perfect weather for soup!
I was making a batch of these tomato balsamic meatballs last week, and it occurred to me that they’d be delicious if I made them mini, and put them into soup… and the perfect addition to meatballs is pasta (and tomatoes, and parmesan cheese), so this recipe basically wrote itself. It was AWESOME as a big, warm lunch this weekend – when it was grey and windy outside, with a “wintry mix” falling. Unfortunately, this week’s forecast will give us plenty more opportunities to want to cozy up with a nice bowl of soup…
Italian Turkey Meatball Soup
serves 4-6 as a meal, 8-10 as a starter
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey (I prefer 93/7)
2 T heavy cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 cloves garlic, grated
3 T minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
For the soup:
1 batch of meatballs
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
28oz can of petite diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
8oz small pasta
one 3″ parmesan cheese rind*
grated parmesan for garnish
minced parsley for garnish
*If I haven’t mentioned it before, you should be saving the rinds from your parmesan cheese. Throw them in a ziploc bag, keep them in the freezer, and use them when you’re making soups like this – a parmesan rind will add add a nice nutty, salty richness to the soup. If you don’t have one on hand already, just cut it off a fresh block of parmesan cheese.
1.) Start by making your meatballs. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, heavy cream, tomato paste, parmesan, grated garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the ground turkey, and use your hands to combine everything well (without over-mixing). Starting with 1/4 cup, add the breadcrumbs to the meatball mixture; mix the breadcrumbs in, and add more, a bit at a time, if the mixture still seems too wet.
2.) Roll the meat mixture into small balls – about 3/4″ across. You should get about 50 meatballs from the mixture.
3.) Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil to the pot. Add a layer of meatballs to the pot (don’t crowd the pan, you can brown them in batches), and let them brown for a couple minutes; flip them once, and allow them to brown on the other side. You’re not trying to cook them through, just to sear them, so once they’ve browned, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate, and brown the next batch.
4.) While you brown the meatballs, cook your pasta until al dente, and set aside.
5.) Once all your meatballs are browned, add the diced onions and carrots to the hot pot. Cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3-4 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, and add the garlic and red pepper flakes.
6.) Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and parmesan rind to the pot. Increase the heat, and let the soup come to a boil; immediately reduce it to a simmer. Add the meatballs to the soup, and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and warm.
7.) Spoon a small portion of pasta into each bowl, and then ladle the soup over it. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan and parsley, and serve immediately.
Somewhat surprisingly, this soup is super light. Filling, comforting, warm – but not heavy in the least. The turkey meatballs are moist and flavorful, and there’s just enough pasta to make it feel carb-y. A blanket of freshly grated parmesan cheese perfectly completes it.
If I have to break out the uggs and puffer coat, at least I have soup,